Operation Bosphorus on firearms trafficking results in circa 250 arrests during 2016

Nearly 250 arrests and 556 gas and alarm pistols seized are a few of the final results of Operation Bosphorus, a series of international actions conducted in 2016. The actions involved ten EU Member States with co-ordination by Romania as the activity’s leader and were underpinned by the full operational and analytical support of Europol.

Operation Bosphorus is a series of actions developed under the EMPACT Firearms OAP 2015 targeting the gas/alarm pistols of a Turkish manufacture trafficked into Europe via Bulgaria.

Based upon intelligence packages provided by Europol, ten EU Member States – namely Romania, Greece, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Cyprus, Finland, Sweden, Spain and the UK (with the support of Bulgaria) – agreed to investigate the acquisition and possession of such firearms by their nationals or in their territory, since according to their own national legislation, a declaration or authorisation is required to acquire, import and possess such a firearm in these countries.

To date, Operation Bosphorus has resulted in 245 arrests, 421 house searches, 556 gas/alarm pistols being found and seized (as well as 108 other firearms) and the capture of 33,748 rounds of ammunition.

Other illegal commodities found have included silencers, tools for converting the pistols to live firing, stun guns, indoor cannabis plantations, sniper scopes, grenades, pepper sprays, magazines and 234 ancient coins (representing cultural goods/antiquities violations).

In Spain, at least four illicit workshops for the conversion of weapons to live firing and the production of ammunition were identified and dismantled. With the support of a Europol mobile office deployed for a week in Athens, authorities in Greece arrested over 100 individuals and seized 101 pistols and 5,537 rounds of ammunition.

In recent years, gas/alarm pistols have become extremely popular among criminals and have been represented in considerable figures in firearm trafficking and seizure cases. This is mainly due to the fact that:

*their conversion to live firing is very easy (and can also be reversed if required)

*they’re made of metal and are quite reliable in firing live ammunition

*they’re relatively cheap and easy to access

*most models are an imitation of an existing live firing weapon and, even if they’re not converted, such pistols can be used in acts of criminality for the purpose of intimidation

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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